Three greetings for 9/6/22

For Woo(l)ly Mammoth’s #82: a fresh greeting formula, a morning hummer, and a fairy woodland bouquet. To which I’m adding some carrot cake and coffee ice cream: it’s not only my birthday, it’s also National Coffee Ice Cream Day, which I’m honoring all aslant (with coffee gelato), as I do so many things. To alter a family saying (If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly): If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing eccentrically (for other occasions: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing outrageously).

The fresh greeting formula. Alternatives to Happy birthday, nice though that greeting is. The household tradition (which comes from Ann Daingerfield Zwicky) is I am glad you were born. Today’s greeting, from Gadi Niram: (long form, from Gadi) I can’t tell you how happy I am that you keep having birthdays; (short from, edited down by me) I’m happy you keep having birthdays.

My response:

What a lovely way to frame the sentiment. The conveyed message is, sort of, I’m really glad you haven’t died — but you’re accentuating the positive, which is joyful.

(That is, you got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Like the song says.) The song, however, is from my parents’ generation, and maybe Gadi didn’t know it (but he did). From Wikipedia:

“Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” is a popular song which was published in 1944. The music was written by Harold Arlen and the lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.

The morning hummer. Then there appeared in my mailfeed the juiciest, spiciest, raciest greeting card that has ever been my pleasure to receive. It was that of a tiny bird intent on taking pleasure in conjoining with the pink-inflamed organs of a rampant flower.

It was a Jacquie Lawson animated greeting card (with music). From Rod Williams and Ted Bush. A one-minute wordless tale in which a ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) hooks up with a newly opened morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) flower. Three screen shots from the story:

(#1) Sighting

(#2) Approach

(#3) Penetration

My reply to Ted and Rod:

Ah, the red-throated hummingbird has plunged all the way into the quiveringly open pink bell of of the welcoming morning glory: the morning hummer.

Here I’ve introduced the sexual slang hummer, homophonous with the ornithological slang hummer ‘hummingbird’. From GDoS:

compound noun hum job [AZ: with sex-act libfix job, as in hand job, blow job, etc.] — also noun hummer [AZ: with event –er, as in kegger, nooner, etc.]: (US) fellation, which is intensified by the fellator humming as he/she sucks.

Finally, the beginning of this section — “there appeared in my mailfeed the juiciest …” — is a riff on Tom Lehrer’s fabulously deadpan intro to his song “Alma”:

Last December 13th [in 1964], there appeared in the newspapers the juiciest, spiciest, raciest obituary that has ever been my pleasure to read. It was that of a lady named Alma Mahler-Gropius-Werfel who had, in her lifetime, managed to acquire as lovers practically all of the top creative men in central Europe, and, among these lovers, who were listed in the obituary, by the way, which was what made it so interesting, there were three whom she went so far as to marry.

(Two beautifully constructed sentences that I have admired for 60 years.)

The fairy woodland bouquet. As I was taking this in, the fairies appeared. The playful, powerful ones, from Midsummer Night’s Dream. In yet another Jacquie Lawson electronic card, from Bonnie and Ed Campbell, wishing me happy birthday via a magical woodland bouquet that assembles itself before our eyes, plus the magical Mendelssohn music (MND condensed — whoosh — into a single minute!):


But wait! There’s more! As I was writing up these three greetings, a mammoth one came in from Vadim Temkin; then Gadi sent me the imperative greeting EAT CAKE!, which inspired me to order up a carrot cake, for which my stashed red bean mooncakes would serve as backup (I then had a hearty no-cook breakfast for lunch here on the hot sands of the Gobi, with a piece of carrot cake for dessert); and finally a third Jacquie Lawson arrived, from Helen Aristar-Dry, getting a round of surprised laughing-out-loud from me (laughter’s an excellent birthday gift) — a family in a museum is watching Monet waterlilies in lightly rippling waters, when a large playful black lab dog jumps into the pond on the right and swims across it, goes off the left edge of the painting, then appears on the left side of the museum floor, to bound up to its family and shake water all over them. A lovely little bit of frame-breaking.

VT on the Year of Polar Rapprochement: Vadim Temkin has been sending me digital artworks of his own composition for my birthday for many years, involving, among other things, woolly mammoths, penguins, gay signs and symbols, and male bodies (on their own or in sexual connection). I really wasn’t expecting an e-card from him this year, since he’s still getting settled in Medillín, Colombia. But he stepped up to bat once again, with this frosty delight:

(#5) Woolly mammoth with two penguins; in a Freudian reading, my gigantic gay id is being critiqued by my chilly ego and super-ego; in another reading, two sweet twinks stand in awe of Biiig Arnold; you can probably think of other interpretations (sometimes a mammoth is just a mammoth)

And as I was processing this image for posting, there came today’s most satisfying greeting: the briefest of notes, with a promise of more to come, from my first male lover (a fine man, then and now). After 50 years, both of us are managing to keep having birthdays, and that is a Very Good Thing.


2 Responses to “Three greetings for 9/6/22”

  1. annburlingham Says:

    I am glad you and Tom Lehrer keep having birthdays.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Tom is in principle old enough to be my father, though culturally we belong to the same generation; in metaphorically familial terms, he’s not my father, but my cool older brother. But actual age is what it is, and we can’t expect Tom to continue having birthdays for much longer.

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